Anyone who lives in my part of New England knows how gray and dismal the autumn and winter have been so far. We haven’t had the usual snow or freezing rain or sleet or any of the nasty “wintry mix” types of precipitation we usually get, so I don’t want to complain too much. (I wouldn’t mind a little snow, though.) Instead, it has rained. And rained. Or been gray. And gray again.
One thing you might not have known about me is that I can’t take a lot of gray. I need sunlight and warmth. Preferably lots of both. In fact, I resisted using grays as an artist for a long time because I despised the color so much.
And yet, without the grays, the glorious pure colors can’t truly be appreciated. So I learned to love them during a workshop I took with Carolyn Caldwell, who knows her stuff when it comes to color theory. I will forever be grateful to her. One of the most important things I learned was how many variations of gray there are: warm gray, cool gray, pink gray, brown gray, blue gray, green gray, violet gray.… You name the color, and there’s a gray version of it. And oh, how they make a painting lure the viewer in.
So, I present to you “Still Life on Outdoor Table.” It sent me into a new direction, which I hadn’t anticipated. Today’s painting was a way to get some light and warmth back into my life, as well as a way to use different grays as a supporting cast to allow the pure yellows and oranges and blues do their diva dance without making viewers’ eyes hurt. Those flowers aren’t white, dear reader. Every light area is either pink gray, violet gray, yellow gray, green gray, or blue gray. They give your eyes a soft and subdued landing place from which you can view the warm glow of the light. Without those grays, the painting would have no life, or worse, be a cacophony of shouting, competing colors: “Look at me!” “No, me!” “Over here!” “No, here!” And before you know it, your eyes and brain are all discombobulated and exhausted. Learn to love the gray. Gray is our friend. Well, in paintings, at least. I’m sure it is with the weather, too, but I’m not there yet.
This painting was also inspired by Dan McCaw, one of my favorite artists (another thing you probably didn’t know about me). What he does with color and light and grays and browns is truly awe inspiring. His painting here is a prime example. Those light areas contain no or very little pure white, even though your brain might try to tell you at first that all light areas are white. Everything light is a shade of gray. See if you can count how many. I decided to emulate his style as best I could in order to add to my own.